Lukaku should be loaned if Jose buys strikers
By Oliver Wilson
Jose Mourinho may have arrived back at Stamford Bridge on a fluffy cloud of peace and tranquillity but once the official unveiling was over, it was time for the happy/special one to get down to business and start turning Chelsea back into a title challenging side.
There’s plenty of rearranging to be done in South West London after the managerial anarchy that has taken place since his first departure, and Jose has been left with a squad that has had to deal with the individual input –and transfer dealings - of eight different managers.
Chelsea saw 30 players loaned out across the globe last season and, as the exiled return back to their parent club once again, the Portuguese must decide which ones he will allow to return to the bosom of his squad, and which will be cast out or left to rot in Chelsea’s reserves. Mourinho’s faithful companion Michael Essien, who joined him on loan in Madrid last season, is likely to have a place set for him at the table while Yossi Benayoun and Thorgan Hazard both have paths to walk that are slightly less easy to decipher.
The major headache for Mourinho regarding his predecessors’ loanees, though, comes in the form of his highly touted youngster Romelu Lukaku.
While Kevin De Bruyne –Mourinho’s other important youngster whose loan spell was essential to keeping Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga last season - appears to fit somewhere in the new look Chelsea squad after not being loaned out to Bayern Leverkusen in the deal for Andre Schurrle’s signature this week, Lukaku’s destination for next season appears less settled at this early part of the summer.
"I can say that [De Bruyne and Lukaku] are the profile of player that Chelsea invested a lot in the past and I think it's my work and my contribution to extract the best out of that investment," cooed Jose on Monday as he spoke to the media, appearing to settle the debate on whether the 19-year-old would be playing for the club that signed him from Anderlecht.
Lukaku too spoke this week too to say “"I had a chat with José and he'll put me in his squad.”
Being in Jose’s squad, however, doesn’t mean the young striker will be playing regular first team football, and with Edinson Cavani, Edin Dzeko, Hulk, Stevan Jovetic and even Wayne Rooney all being linked to Stamford Bridge already this summer, Lukaku might not be battling only Demba Ba and Fernando Torres for the lone striker role at Chelsea this coming season.
Lukaku, being the ultimate competitor that he has shown he is, is desperate to play regular first team football, especially during such an important stage of his career for his development, not to mention with a World Cup just around the corner. Described as the next Didier Drogba upon his arrival at Chelsea two-years-ago, Lukaku unleashed a tirade of frustration at his old manager Andre Villas-Boas after he felt he spent the majority of his first campaign in London learning nothing on the sidelines.
“There is one person that I will never forgive for what he did to me - the previous coach,” said Lukaku last May.
“Right from the beginning, it was weird. I could not stand how he was treating me. I received no explanation.
“In training, he put me on the right or left wing. In training matches, I was a substitute with a shirt to keep swapping teams. I really learned nothing!”
Last season the Belgian forward spent the year with Mourinho’s former assistant manager Steve Clarke at West Bromwich Albion where he was given regular playing time for the first time in 12-months. Over the course of the season, Lukaku’s power, skill and confidence grew and by the season’s end he’d become an integral part of the Baggie’s attack and a candidate for the PFA’s Young Player of the Year award.
“The next two years will be very important for me to play,” he said after West Brom toppled Reading last September.
“I’m just 19 years old so next year I’ll be 20 still so people will still look at me like a baby, next year I’ll be 21 so I’ll still be a baby in some peoples eyes and then there is the world cup and stuff like that so I want to play as much as I can in the next three years so really at 21 I can be where I wanted to be.”
Then, last December, after stating a desire to stay at West Brom for the 2013/14 season, Lukaku once again pointed to regular first team football as being the vital ingredient to his progress as a player.
“It’s very important to play week in week out because at 19 you want to develop and hopefully I hope to be one of the great players in the Premier League.
“I have more games in my legs as well so I learn but I can act on it [at West Brom]. Last year [at Chelsea] I learned a lot, I watched a lot but I didn’t act on the pitch that much so now I can learn and act so hopefully I can do that for two years and then go back as a better player.”
With West Ham allegedly eyeing a loan move for the Baggie’s top scorer from last season, Lukaku knows he has a starting spot in the Premier League available to him at somewhere other than Chelsea. With a plan in his head for his development and a determination to become the best player he can be, the taste of regular first team football will be one Romelu both wants and feels he needs. If Chelsea don’t think they can provide that this year, sending the Belgian to West Ham, or back to West Brom under the care of Jose’s old friend, could prevent a talented and mature player from speaking out in frustration against another Chelsea manager who he feels is holding him back.